SlideWiki Advisory Board Interview with Dr. Iraklis Varlamis, Assistant Professor

Harokopio University of Athens (HUA), is among the supporters of the SlideWiki platform. In this interview, we feature Dr. Iraklis Varlamis, Assistant Professor at the Department of Informatics and Telematics of HUA and SlideWiki Advisory Board member, and we discuss his experience with the SlideWiki platform, and his plans in terms of using OER, OCW and SlideWiki beyond the duration of the SlideWiki project.

  1. What is your experience with OER, OCW and (open) education in your country/city?

Harokopio University of Athens is one of the Universities that have participated in opencourses.gr, the coalition of Greek Institutions towards open academic courses, which are freely accessible and freely available to everyone over the Internet. In order to support this effort, I contributed with two of my undergraduate courses on Databases and Object-Oriented Programming, which contain video material from the lectures and the labs,  reading material and exercises that can help anyone to dive deep in the two subjects. As a visiting lecturer at the Greek National School of Public Administration and Local Government, I have contributed with reading and lecturing material to many courses and seminars for active or trainee civil servants.

  1. How do you evaluate the importance of Open Course Ware and Open Educational Resources for all educational levels?

Open Course Ware is nowadays widely used in higher education, both as a mean for supporting learning on academic programs but also as a valuable alternative to improve access to high-quality educational content released by outstanding universities worldwide. This huge success of OCW clearly shows the road to institutions at all educational levels from pre-school to adult education and professional education and training, where Open Educational Resources (OER) seem to be the next big thing, for improving educational results while reducing the educational costs.

  1. How do you deem the future of OER, OCW and open education?

Fred Mulder, the UNESCO chair in Open Education Resources (OER), said back in 2002 that “OER will need 20 to 30 years to reach its ultimate global realization”. Today, we already seize the benefits of MOOCs and we are getting ready for the next era of open education, which comprises new models for learning and new criteria for measuring the value and impact of education. Having overpassed the obstacles of designing and implementing the first open courses, we now have the experience for delivering more course alternatives that will cross more barriers, such as those related to the type of the learning materials, the different cultural context of educatees etc.

  1. What is special about the SlideWiki platform (https://slidewiki.org/)?

 SlideWiki platform offers an open-source solution for creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER) in the form of slide decks. Its unique, repository-like, design allows educators to access, reuse and repurpose slides and decks and quickly creating customized presentations for their audience. This simplifies the process of adapting the presentation material to the specific needs of the audience, enhancing previously created with new features such as questions, comments etc, and sharing the result with other educators for future reuse.

  1. In your opinion which are the target groups that can best benefit from using the SlideWiki platform?

Adult and life-long education and training can be of great benefit from SlideWiki. Educators in such programmes usually confront mixed audiences and student groups with changing needs, so they frequently have to change their presentation content to adapt to the different group needs. With SlideWiki platform, this can be much easier, since all previous content can be accessible and reusable to them and their students, and new content can be quickly created by modifying the existing content, without losing the link to the original source.

  1. How does your organization plan to use the SlideWiki platform in the future?

I see the use of SlideWiki platform in the National School of Public Administration and Local Government as a means for supporting the life-long education of civil servants in a multitude of subjects. The School has a long-term collaboration with some educators, but a constant flow of educators that contribute their expertise to domain-specific topics by developing educational and training material and delivering courses and seminar. The School has created an archive of this educational content throughout these years, and with SlideWiki it has now the opportunity to increase the openness of this content, to enforce its impact to the public administration and support future trainees and educators in a more flexible manner. It has already contributed some courses to the SlideWiki platform and plans to contribute more in the future.

  1. Would you like to share with us lessons learned and advice from your experience on working in the educational domain and give recommendations to learners and educators?

Creating Open Educational Resources requires a huge initial investment both for organizations and for educators. Although the necessary resources are not always available and it is hard to create OCW, the benefits of openness are multiple and are even more when open content can be easily reused and repurposed. Even though it is hard to deliver a whole curriculum in the form of OCW, it is feasible to contribute with a module or a single course or lab, which can be reused by others in their modules or curricula. It is important to define the framework for educational content sharing and reusability and SlideWiki is a well appreciated effort in this direction.

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